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New Magnesium Sheet Process Targets Medical, Auto Applications

New Magnesium Sheet Process Targets Medical, Auto Applications

Thixomat will introduce a new magnesium sheet technology at the Society of Automotive Engineers Congress in Detroit, MI April 20 to 23. NanoMag is a new technology for fine-grain high-strength magnesium sheet with nanometer microstructures for automotive, aerospace and other applications.

Thixomat makes the sheet by injecting magnesium alloys in a liquid state into a large cavity in an injection molding machine. The plate is then rolled and heat treated to achieve its final shape and mechanical properties.

"The process, developed in conjunction with the Department of Material Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan and under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation, offers numerous advantages in material integrity and cost savings over any other product now available," says Steve LeBeau, Thixomat's CEO. NanoMag is a subsidiary of Thixomat.

The key to the NanoMag technology is its ability to create fine-grained strengthening of magnesium alloys at low cost through a process called the Thixomat Thermal Mechanical Process, or TTMP. The net result is a magnesium sheet with properties similar to steel and with a comparable strength-to-density ratio as that of steel but at one quarter the weight.

NanoMag can be used as a base material to the manufacture of fuel cells and electronic products. LeBeau believes the process also will gain wide acceptance in the biomedical industry for temporary connecting pins and plates since magnesium dissolves in the body with no adverse effects.

"We've learned that the density and strength of NanoMag material is more like human bone than virtually any other currently popular implant materials," says LeBeau. Because of this, he sees the possibility of the use of the process for biodegradable implants for hard tissue.

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